I purchased my Skyroam from Amazon. I am a loyal customer and have yet to have a bad experience with Amazon. Since we would be gone for about 12 days, I figured I would have to use up the 5 free days that came with the device, and then purchase additional days. Someone mentioned that each day of service costs $10, but I discovered later (when I had to renew) that if you are willing to buy the service in 5 day increments, you can buy 5 days for $40 ($8 per day instead of $10!). Each day is a 24 hour period. For example, if you authorize usage at 5 pm today, your 24 hour coverage ends at 5 pm tomorrow. You'll notice that you're not getting any signal while you're trying to Instagram something, and then see the notification on the Skyroam that your service has expired.
Originally, my plan was to spread out the 5 days of usage over the 12 days, give or take an additional purchase of service here and there. However, I quickly found out how sick my internet addiction was, and ended up buying service for all 12 days I was away.
Here's what I thought:
Quality (4 out of 5 stars) - The order arrived within two days since I did expedited shipping. Leave it to me to wait til the last minute to take care of something like this. The packaging was nice and secure - definitely not cheap looking. However, when you open the box and see the device itself, I rated it only a 4 out of 5 because I felt the materials used to make the device could've been more substantial. I also felt the screen on the device seemed outdated, and while the menu was manageable, it did take a little while to figure out how to navigate through the menu. When my friend Patty helped me with it (when I was trying to renew service), I noticed how quickly she went through the menus, but we won't count Patty because she is a techie and lives for this kind of stuff. Remember, my review is from the perspective of someone who's never used something of this nature before.
It comes with a USB charging cable that you could plug into a wall plug, or charge right from your laptop or battery pack. I charged it several times from my Anker battery pack and had no issues.
Performance (4 out of 5 stars) - I didn't think the signal was exceptional. It definitely wasn't as good as my wifi signal at home. However, when I needed to post something on Instagram, or check out what was going on at home on Facebook, it did the job. On a few occasions I did Facetime with my dogs (yes, you read that correctly), and the reception was pretty good.
The device allows up to 5 people to be connected at once (including yourself, of course), and obviously the more people that are connected, the slower the signal is. At one point, someone wandered off too far and lost signal (this of course led to about 30 minutes of searching for people). I don't know what the exact range is in order to get good signal, but I can't imagine it to be very far. Because of this, everyone stuck by me most of the time.
One thing I want to point out is that this device gets very warm when in use. I'm sure that I should've turned it off at night, but because I am lazy, I basically charged it at night and left it on for almost the entire duration of the trip (minus when we were in flight). There were times I could feel the heat coming from my backpack because the device got so warm. It wasn't scorching hot, but warm enough that you could feel the heat. If you've ever used those hand warmers that campers use that come in the foil packets, that's about as warm as it got.
Overall, I was quite pleased with the Skyroam. It got the job done, and I would definitely use it again on another trip. What I really like about the Skyroam is the ability to buy days as you go. I know some people prefer to get a pay-as-you-go phone when traveling internationally, or maybe get a different sim card, but for me that required too much effort. The set up for the Skyroam was simple and easy for someone that doesn't consider themselves a techie. Once your device is charged and powered on, you just follow the on-screen directions to set up your account, and you're ready to go! Once your 5 free days runs out, you just buy more days, and keep going.